Wednesday, December 26, 2012

We are just like you: We have feelings

The Newtown story with its media misinformation has affected and reflected on our family negatively. PLEASE let people know that an Autism/Asperger's/ASD diagnosis isn't the makings of a manic. Harsh words hurt us too.

image by LEGGustafson

A mother's anger: Stop linking autism to violence By Sarah Darer Littman,

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

Taciturn Tuesday: Gitchi Gami Green

photo by LEGGustafson

Speech: Decoding Comprehension - More Apps

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  A good way to work on "wh" questions with your kids is to ask questions about the stories you read with them. There are many reading comprehension apps out there. Here are some to try. The apps are the usual .99 to 4.99 unless otherwise noted. Many of these apps are available at the higher elementary grade levels. I am using these as they fit with Sensi's levels right now.
These apps conform to the "wh" question protocol discussed in decoding-comprehension-info-and-apps or can be used to make sentences of your own. Remember to drop the reading level below decoding level to get the most out of this method.

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Reading Comprehension Grades K-1 by Basic Skills Interactive: Seven reading groups to choose from with 100 stories in all.

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Reading Comprehension Animals: Grades K-1 by Interactive Learning Success: This one is a favorite since Sensi has been all about Animal Atlas on Netflix and Qubo lately.  40 stories with 4 multiple choice questions for each story.

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Kindergarten Reading Comprehension Practice: Starting level with 5 sentences and has up to 4 questions per short story.

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Kids Reading Comprehension Level 1 Passages for iPad by Angela Reed: This app is organized so the stories are displayed on a book shelf from which your kids can choose.  Very short stories with 4 comprehension questions per story.

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Kids Learning Photo Touch Concepts: Another way to ask "wh" questions is to review simple concepts such as opposites and prepositions like the ones in this app:

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Abitalk Sentence Builder: Unlimited ability to create your own sentences to ask  "wh" questions, or use their more than 200 built in sentences. Can use built in images to help create your own sentences, and has a record function. 

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Super Duper's "Wh" Question Cards: "WHO" is free, WHAT WHERE WHEN WHY are available for 2.99 each as in app purchases. Has several games to ask questions, multiple choice, match, decoder and drag'n'match.

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Kindergarten Reading Comprehension by Aaron Levy:
More reading comprehension using "wh" questions. 

As you can see, there are plenty of "wh" question apps out there, you just have to find the reading comprehension apps and the questions are provided, or just ask your own questions. Remember you can add  any of the missing "wh" questions yourself with the apps with only 4 questions per story. Have some fun eplay with these apps. 


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Four Months Post AIT

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There has been little to report about Sensi's progress from AIT. She is still struggling a bit with her toileting issues, but she is still making progress with her speech, although not as fast as she was. She is also continuing to improve in her motor planning when she does mazes and puzzles. I have noticed that she is jumping on her trampoline less, I am not sure what that is about, just that it is new. Her therapists outside of school report that she has been better at listening and responding, they don't have to repeat things as often for her, just wait for her response. Waiting for the response can be a challenge for all of us. Those 5 or so seconds of hang time are hard sometimes.
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 She is liking playing with her brother's Legos more and more, she especially likes the mini figures. They have been playing with Legos together more often.  She is also liking Thomas the train, so Random Guy pulled out all his old trains for her and they have been playing together with that too. Her speech is more spontaneous and conversational than it was. Just the other morning when she was having trouble waking up, she said "Daddy, go away." She also has been saying no, and meaning no more often. 

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Lunch is not as much of an issue since she is taking her lunch in the classroom most of the time. There is another student who was having trouble in the lunchroom, so they decided to have them both eat their lunch in in their classroom. Sensi has pretty much been eating her lunch since that change, even when she has to eat in the lunchroom when they are short staffed. So really, what we found out is the lunchroom was causing sensory overload for her and she didn't want to eat in that environment on a regular basis. That goes back to looking at the sensory triggers for mysterious behaviors; we had to be sensory detectives. She has no trouble eating lunch in the quiet confines of her classroom, but put her in a room with a hundred or more other students and she turns her back and wants nothing to do with eating lunch.

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 In general there has been less anxiety for her at school. There have been lots of last minute changes to the regular routine since they are practicing for the winter concert coming up next week. She has taken changes in her routine in stride. The last month or so has brought less crying and screaming. Unfortunately this new found mellowness has a downside. She has needed more prompts to pay attention to follow directions due to absorbtion in her own world. So she is able to tune out the things in the environment that were bothering her, but she is also able to tune out the teacher. 
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 She is making progress in her usual Sensi way. She makes gains in some areas and she has trouble in others. She is doing better at her outside therapies, but she isn't doing as well in school. She has never taken the straight path in her progress, but there is almost always progress. As we move further from the AIT therapy sessions, it becomes more difficult to sort out what is from that therapy, what is progress from our other therapies and what is just part of her normal development. I'm just happy with any progress that she wants to make. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Taciturn Tuesday: Harbin Snow Sculpture Festival

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Monday, December 3, 2012

A Hint from a Sensory Seeker's Mom

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My daughter is a sensory seeker. She has painted the kitchen in ketchup, waxed her bedroom floor with skin cream and covered herself in various sticky and/or slimy substances
This time Sensi put Vaseline in her hair. This is a recurring problem; she has put lotion, rash cream, and other goopy things in her hair. 
I was lamenting the fact that her hair was still greasy to her occupational therapist. I had washed Sensi's hair 5 times, and used lots of dry shampoo spray; her therapist suggested using baking soda.
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Apparently this is the new/old way to clean hair, like dry shampoo, only cheaper, and more importantly, readily available in my house. The difference is the recommended way to use baking soda to clean hair is a few teaspoons diluted in water to massage in and rinse with cider vinegar. I just dumped 2 tablespoons in her hair, rubbed it into the greasy spots, and washed her hair as usual with shampoo. Lo and behold...clean hair.
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If you have a sure method to clean up the messes a sensory seeker makes, please share. We all could use a little help when faced with the unique messes our sensory seekers can create.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Traquil Thursday: Elusive End

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Taciturn Tuesday: Insight

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  The Converse of Perfectionism is Reasonableness

Monday, November 26, 2012

Decoding Comprehension: Info and Apps

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After Sensi's school conference, we agreed that we are going to need to work hard on Sensi's paraphrasing skills. Sensi's Speech Therapist explained to me how this all works. Sensi can decode words and read aloud above her grade level, but she has trouble retelling the story since (we think) she feels that she has to retell a story verbatim rather than in her own words. It is important you drop the reading level below 1-2 levels below decoding level when using this approach.
The way to do this is working with simple sentence stories: Tommy went to the grocery store on Saturday to buy some milk. 
Now to paraphrase using "wh" questions...

Who went to the store?
What did Tommy do on Saturday? 
When did Tommy go to the store?
Where did Tommy go on Saturday?
Why did Tommy go to the store?

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Of course there are apps for this, but it can be done just as easily with pencil and paper as long as you follow the form.  Person did something on a certain day at a certain place to do a task. Sally went to the post office yesterday to mail her party invitations. Right now we are doing this with the book "Olivia Counts Down To Christmas."

You can find apps for this at the Super Duper Publications App Store, here are a few: 
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Super Duper StoryMaker: There are free and paid versions

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Wh Questions Cards: Who, what, why, where, what. 

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Sensi's teacher also found a story telling app, StoryBuddy : 

Also there are apps based on the six stages of language development from PRC App lab, here is a link to their page explaining the concept, 
The ones I will be getting for Sensi are: 

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Direct Phrases: Have fun directing activities. 

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-ing words and Prepositions: Helps with forming complete sentences and the use of prepositions.

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Simple Sentences: Building on the -ing words app, encourages more complete grammatical sentences.

We have lots of work to do, but it can be creative and fun too. I hope you have fun with your story telling and "wh" questions with your own kids.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Special Needs Parenting While Depressed

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It is that time of year for me when the wind goes out of my sails. It feels like I have a wet blanket draped over me and everything takes extra effort to get it done. I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and have chronic depression. I have been afflicted with depression since I was a teenager and have had enough episodes that I am on antidepressants pretty much permanently. My last major episode was 9 years ago.
I have to manage my depression so I can take care of my kids. It is a awful struggle sometimes.
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 Of course I always head into winter with plans of how to handle things. It seems as if life always has a way of thwarting those plans. I am overwhelmed by just basic stuff and I have now some extra concerns that have me to the point of just wanting to give up. 


That's the rub, when you have special needs kids you can't give up. You may want to, but really you can't. There is always some battle to fight and you have to muster up the resources to meet the challenge. Because if you don't some of the progress you may have gained with your child may be lost. 

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Add to that the every day bumps and you get some pretty grim realities. I am writing now because I am avoiding cleaning up the basement after the sewer backed up on us this weekend. I also have the back yard to rake, the grocery shopping to do before the stores go haywire before Thanksgiving and just maintaining the house. Add to that the news that they plan on disbanding Sensi's school to farm out the teachers to the separate busing zones and you have me on the verge. 
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I can take a little time to freak out, but then I have to get back on course to find out how to get Sensi and Random the things they need to be successful. The problem is it falls to me, if I don't do it, (write the letter, ask the hard questions, do the research, make the appointment,) it won't get done and my kids lose out. 

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So here I am stuck in low gear. I have a calendar to keep track of must do appointments, a Daily List of 3 to get done house-wise and a weekly list of how ever many to take care of school issues. I have my weekly counseling sessions, walking club once or twice a week and have yoga once a week, so I am doing my best to keep my "me" appointments. The Daily List of 3 consists of things like doing laundry, vacuuming and taking out the garbage. That is where I am at, I have to make a list to ensure I keep our house livable, my kids have clean clothes, and the house stocked with food.  So for the next few months I am going to do my best to keep blogging, but it is not at the top of the list, even though it is a "me" activity. 
So even though I have antidepressants, exercise, a SAD light and my friends for support, the wet blanket is still here. Managing my depression is the best I can do until it lifts.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Three Months Post AIT

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Things have started to normalize with school. Sensi has a new speech teacher in school and we had a meeting and hopefully we have an understanding now. 
We have had no more ear infections or waxy buildup causing pain in her ears. So I am hoping the cue to use flat hands to protect her ears is doing the trick. She is still giving herself wet willies when I am not prompting her. She picked out the fluffiest, puffiest pair of earmuffs last time we went to the store and wears them around the house.
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I asked her teacher how she is doing and she reported improvements. Some of the improvements have been variable, but she related that to our going on vacation for a week last month. There has been some regression in her behavior in her writing class.
She reported Sensi has improved in participating in the mainstream classroom, but has had some back sliding with our trip and her helper being ill these past weeks.  She is able to follow directions with prompts from her helper, stay relatively still and quiet and stay seated during class. When we returned they had started writing a letter for the next assignment. Since Sensi started on the assignment late and wasn't there for the initial instruction, she is lacking in enthusiasm for the project.

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 I got a report from her other classroom helper that she is able to participate in calandar math and has been doing well. He is thinking of moving her up to the next level with another student. She was upset when it came to change the month over to November. That one is a mystery, aside from November contains Thanksgiving, one of Sensi's least favorite holidays. He also accompanies her to lunch. He said she has eaten pizza and chicken with rice. Aside from those meals she puts her tray on the table and turns her back on the food. We decided that he is going to prompt her to take one bite of her lunch before she can get up and go back to class. We will see if that works out, if it is explained as a rule, we might get some cooperation.

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One of Sensi's favorite paraprofessionals in class is Ms. E. She was in class last year when Sensi started kindergarten at her new school. Ms. E. says that the difference from last year is like she is another child. She reported that Sensi will sit with her during circle time, and even lean on her while they are listening. She isn't screaming, she isn't upset and she actually listens to what the teacher is saying.  Part of it is just a function of growing up, but I think part is due to her being less defensive sensory-wise in class. 

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Her speech continues to improve. Our tutor came for a visit to test out some apps with Sensi. Sensi was involved with one app and her tutor wanted her to stop and try another. Sensi said" Give me a minute!" and pushed tutor's hand away.  I am so impressed with her spontaneous response. She is also correcting her Qubo show promo scripts. There was one line that went "We should hide." For the last month she had been saying "Wish I..." This morning waiting for the bus we were following the promo script and she said it correctly this time. Little victories.
Her Speech Language Pathologist reported that when doing her assessment for the insurance company that for the first time Sensi tried to  answer almost all the questions. She only had some trouble with synonyms.  Overall, Sensi continues to improve, with some set backs. I am still pleased with the progress. Her speech is getting better all the time.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Taciturn Tuesday: ZEN

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photo by Rachel Gittman

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Taciturn Tuesday: Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center

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